CRANFORD - She hadn't scored more than a goal in a game through her first two seasons. On Monday, she tallied four.
Riley Korzeneski scored four goals to lead second-seeded Cranford past third-seeded Middletown North, 8-3, in the semifinal round of the North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 tournament.
"We told the girls that we thought the first-half of the game was as close to perfect as we wanted," said Cranford head coach Andrew Gagliardo. "Beating a team the way they should be beaten coming to our field, I think we did a good job of. We weren't happy giving up those goals in the second-half because we don't want a team to think they have a chance, especially when you jump out to a lead like that."
Playing with the wind in the first-half, Maggie Murray put Cranford on top just 1:26 in, followed by back-to-back goals from Korzeneski. Nellie Clark and Zoe Trotta each added a goal to send Cranford into the half up 5-0.
Switching sides after halftime, Middletown North found some life with two goals of their own before Cranford would go on to notch three of the next four. Korzeneski scored her third and fourth goals along with one by Laurel Teel.
With the win, Cranford avenges its 3-1 loss to Middletown North last year in the Sectional Finals, and will go on to take on Middletown South (21-1) on Thursday at a time to be determined.
"We know that we're going to face a really, really good team. At the same time, I don't think their confidence is as strong as ours is," said Gagliardo. "We're in Union County and we play a lot of Top 20 teams over the course of the season. But that being said, I think it's going to be a really good battle and going two years in a row is an amazing accomplishment, but this time we want to walk away with it."
"We're expecting a good game and we can't wait," added Korzeneski.
Goals: Korzeneski (4), Murray, Trotta, Teel, Clark
Assists: Murray, Korzeneski, Teel, Brooke Swandrak, Madison Flynn